Anger, shame and fear

This is what I am feeling right now. The grand finale of my job is taking place next week, a nationally televised press conference on the book we’ve been working on for the last year, and I’m afraid. Excited. Worried. Anxious. Stressed. There is still so much to do beforehand, and the whole thing involves being away from home for four days. I’m so far out of my comfort zone, my comfort zone is a dot to me.

This makes me be shitty to my husband, to my son, basically to everyone around me (unless they are people who I still believe I have to keep up an appearance for). It makes me restless and unfocused. Mindfulness is much needed but seems very, very unreachable right now.

It is a big deal to admit this, because my default mode is to pretend everything’s fine. Recent talks with friends, like Jen, have spelled out what I already knew deep down: That default mode is a certain way to shut people out of my life, to end up lonely and frustrated, to become unhappy. Why do I always think I have to endure life’s less nice offerings alone? That I am only allowed to share if the things I’m sharing are nice and pleasant? Where does the belief come frome that I’ll be a burden to my friends and family if I admitted to my difficulties?

I have tried blaming my family. I have tried blaming myself – until I could finally admit what I had known all along: It is not about blaming, it’s simply the way it is. The way I am. And it’s something I can work on. Nobody’s perfect, as they say, and nobody should have to be.

These two blog entries by The Word Cellar and Brené Brown illustrate quite wonderfully how I am feeling right now: Wanting to be authentic but also feeling obliged to external (mostly imagined) expectations/default modes. I am so grateful to know I’m not the only one struggling with this.

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Where I’ve been

Always a pleasure: Heidelberg in spring.

NeckarThe castle

I was away in Frankfurt and Heidelberg for three days, to meet my PhD supervisor and colleagues. As most of you know, I live and work in Hamburg, but my employer is located in Heidelberg, so a trip now and then is unavoidable. This particular time was relaxed and pleasant, a welcome distraction from the everyday.

What keeps coming up in my work relationships is the question of status, the question of who is treating whom which way and why. I don’t know whether this is only me, but it seems that especially in academia, the question of degrees, publications and achievements is very very relevant. At the same time, there are huge differences in how institutions deal with that issue. For instance, my employer in Heidelberg is an island in this regard (and in many others). One example: In most academic institutions I know, the offices come with little signs that say whether it’s a doctor, a professor or “only” a master sitting behind that door. In my institute, when we finally decided to put up name plates, the sole condition was that they do NOT show any titles.

I really love that, don’t you?

Flea market

We’ve had a long, very sunny weekend over here. May 1 ist Labour Day in Germany, hence nobody has to work, which gave us the chance to tackle a couple of projects my husband and I had wanted to finish. Like giving my bike a new gear shift, building a sandbox and swing for Junior in our little garden, and generally spending a lot of time outdoors.

Today, this year’s first thrift market proved to be the perfect finale for what had already been a pretty perfect weekend. Apart from a couple of very cool wooden playthings for Jakob, I managed to find a Polaroid camera for nearly nothing, and guess what: it even still had film in it! I may be on the way to actually taking pictures of inspirational stuff like this market so that I can share them here…